The islands that make the lagoon a sustainable proposition

by :venews

The islands that make the lagoon a sustainable propositionVenice as a city is only one part of the Venice of the lagoon where islands create a sort of natural park without equal in the world. The islands have been for a long time left to decay and this in turn damages Venice itself. It seems incredible now to think how these islands were once teeming with life and that are now abandoned or in some noteworthy cases, restructured and given new life. These cases give hope that not every angle of the lagoon need be lost forever.


San Servolo, San Clemente and the Certosa are three examples of what restructuring can do and what new life it can bring.  If other islands are to be redeveloped, it must be considered in terms of practicality and obviously the high costs must be sustainable in order to improve the quality of life within the whole territory.
Choosing tourism as a way of converting islands and bringing them back to life can’t be the only solution when employment and an improvement in  the quality of life is one of the major aims.
A sedate way of life is typical of Venice but the city cannot adopt it as a way of life.  On the contrary it has to move, keep up with the world to be at all competitive. The idea of island life tends to lend itself to a tranquil slow way of life, it would be a pity, and one can already see the risk of it becoming reality, if speculators, businessmen took that tranquillity as a way to make money.
There has always been the usually long debates on what should exactly be done with the islands but unitl now, nothing, or not much has come to fruition.  Millions of tourists come to Venice each year. One wonders where all the money they spend goes.  It seems incredible that with all the money circulating, businessmen and university bodies have not come together and thought up an idea for these islands.
These are rhetorical questions. There are always the wars between private and public, between who owns what and what is legitimate.  Bureaucracy and battles that just slow everything down..  A good example of this is what happened to the Island of Santa Maria delle Grazie.  The islands that survive these verbal battles are those in private hands such as the Poveglia.  But even this attempt at renovation was blocked by papers and documents which dragged out the overall work period.
Private money is needed to give the islands a kick start but its not an easy route to take. Just to go back to the million of tourists.  One would need a tourism that is interested in  Venice’s history, how it grew and sustained itself – how the islands are part of this integral growth toward greatness.
It may seem controversial to say so – but all those wealthy people from all over the world who competetd to buy homes on the artificial coasts of Dubai – could they not have bought instead an island with a history in a natural oasis?
The paradox is that there is a collective loss of memory.  A loss of belonging to a city with a cultural and natural heritage.  The ‘owners’ are unable to run it without falling into the usual bureaucracy battles.  The impression is that this loss of understanding its potential is the major reason for the city’s amnesia.
Modern man can overcome the physical difficulties that an island can represent, with transport and technology and fast communication provided that it doesn’t mean more bridges!


by F. M.
:venews |april 2007

 

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